It was a number of years back. I was still young in my faith and had heard people talking about ‘growing in your relationship with the Lord.’ Now, I understood relationships (though I was a little socially awkward, yet those stories are for another time) but I had lots of friends and had dated around (again those stories are for another time…or not). Anyway, I was desirous of deepening my relationship with God.
I had learned by attending church and through small group Bible studies that I needed to know God. You know, learn more about who God is, what He is like, His character and His attributes. Now, to know more about God is to read, study, and learn the Bible as it is His revelation of Himself. As well, to know and learn and study His Son, Jesus (who is God…wow, ok that is for another time, to discuss the triune nature of God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). We can also learn about God through what He has made;
Romans 1:20 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities– His eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
So I had (and still do) my best to know all I can about God.
But a relationship involves more than just knowledge. It involves an interactive connection. Sure we can stalk people on Facebook and even call them friends, but if there’s no interaction it’s not a real relationship. So I began to contemplate this reality and ask how I can grow closer to God in relationship. It just so happened I was at a place in life where I did have time to think about this (though my slightly ADD mind tends to wander and interject little), I was a landscape and maintenance foreman for a housing tract down in San Diego. I had way too much time without interacting with people (and if you know me, I don’t like to be alone very much) I was mowing, weeding, watering, and planting all day and plants don’t tend to talk back. At first it was miserable, but wanting to make the most of my time I started to memorize Bible verses.
Now wanting to start this new level of spiritual growth, I chose a verse I knew I could memorize.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 17 pray continually;
It’s one of the shortest verses of the Bible! Yet, as I would say it over and over in my mind, questions would pop in. How do I do that? I mean, I can pray at meals, during personal Bible study, when I’m in trouble, or at church, but continually? How do I pray continually as I work, go to school, hang out with friends, play and all the other activities I do in a day. Then I got it…this is the interactive connection to growing in a relationship with God.
So being I had about 8 hours where I was not interacting with anyone else, I figured I would seek to interact with Jesus. I imagined that Jesus was right there with me and so I would talk to Him. At first it was kind of awkward. I didn’t know what to say, being He already knows what I am going to say (Psalm 139:4), yet I would talk anyway. I shared with Him what I was thinking and feeling. I talked about my hopes and dreams. I praised Him, had requests ready to share, I carried lists in my pocket so I could pray for people, and just chatted with Him as if we were hanging out together. I’m sure people thought I was a little crazy because when I knew people could not hear me, like when I was mowing a lawn, I would talk out-loud with gestures and all.
What was amazing is how close I felt to the Lord. For as I would talk to Him I would pause a number of times (sometimes more than the time I would talk) and just wait, listening to hear if God would say anything to me. I never heard Him audibly, but many times He would put a Bible verse in my head that was along the subject we were talking about. As well, He would give me things and people to pray for. God would also put thoughts and ideas in my head and knowing my rather imaginative mind, I would check to make sure they were in line with the Bible (sometimes I would go to people who were wise in the Lord to make sure I was not listening to the wrong thoughts).
This practice still goes on today, years later…and I feel as connected to the Lord as ever. I have a conversation going on in my head right now asking the Lord to have the readers of this be inspired to practice 1 Thessalonians 5:17…pray without ceasing.
God bless you as you stay connected to the Lord…He can’t wait
Connecting to God with you,